Federal Court dismisses Zahid’s appeal to consolidate 12 CBT charges to three charges

by BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA – The Federal Court today dismissed former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s (picture) appeal to consolidate his 12 criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges to only three charges in his trial involving funds belonging to Yayasan Alkalbudi.

A three-member bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed in ruling that there was no contravention of section 153 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code said the section was not a mandatory provision.

“We therefore agree on this issue with the Court of Appeal that it is not mandatory for all 12 charges of CBT to be amalgamated or consolidate to only three charges,” he said when dismissing Ahmad Zahid’s appeal.

Section 153 (2) states that when an accused is charged with criminal breach of trust, it shall be sufficient to specify the gross sum in respect of which the offence is alleged to have been committed and the dates between which the offence is alleged to have committed, without specifying particular items or exact dates, and that the charge may be deemed to be a charge of one offence.

Justice Azahar said it was also not sufficient for Ahmad Zahid to say that he was prevented from getting a fair trial without showing in what way he was so deprived.

“On the complain that the charges preferred against him (Ahmad Zahid) would create adverse perception, we find no merit. The court will decide on all these charges based on admissable evidence in the court,” he added.

Adverse perception was not a factor to be taken into consideration by the court, he said, adding that adverse publicity would also not affect  Ahmad Zahid’s right to a fair trial.

He said it was submitted by Ahmad Zahid’s counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik that in the event of conviction of all the 12 charges, Ahmad Zahid  would be punished separately on the 12 charges as compared to only three.

“In our judgment at this stage, it is not relevant for us to consider the question of sentencing,” said Justice Azahar.

He said sentencing is generally a matter of judicial discretion for the trial court to consider based on established principle of sentencing after taking into account all relevant factors, including mitigating factors advanced by the accused person and for the court to take into account the circumstances of the case.

Justice Azahar, who presided with Federal Court judges Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Datuk Seri Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, in unanimously dismissing Ahmad Zahid’s appeal, found that there was no merits in the appeal.

Ahmad Zahid lost his bid in the High Court to consolidate the 12 CBT charges and the Court of Appeal had also dismissed his appeal, prompting him to file the appeal in the Federal Court.

He had pleaded not guilty to a total of 47 charges, 12 of which are for CBT, eight for bribery and 27 for money laundering, involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

On March 19, the prosecution concluded its case in the trial after calling 99 witnesses to testify.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah had ordered the prosecution and defence to file their written submissions on May 28 and also fixed June 28 to 30 and July 1 and 2 for hearing of oral submissions.

In today’s appeal hearing before the Federal Court, Hisyam argued that non-compliance of Section 153 (2) is both unfair and unjust to his client as in the event of conviction of all the 12 CBT charges, Ahmad Zahid would be punished separately for the charges and the imprisonment term will probably be consecutive.

Deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran urged the court to dismiss the appeal saying that the High Court’s refusal in not directing the prosecution to consolidate the 12 charges into three charges was well founded.